This Season of Creation and beyond we are called to listen and respond together to the cry of Creation as the Christian family around the world unites to pray and protect our common home. Creationtide runs from 1st September to 4th October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Soon after this, the 27th UN Climate Change Conference COP27 will be held in November in Egypt.
COP27 will review progress on mitigation: avoiding and reducing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. It will assess how far we have got on adaptation: changing behaviour, systems, and ways of life to protect communities, economies, and the environment from the effects of climate change. It will review how we are doing on the 2016 Paris Agreement to limit global heating to well below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C. The conference considers loss and damage, when effects of climate change go beyond what people can adapt to. One example is when chronic droughts turn farmland into dust or rising seas cover low-lying islands.
Listen to people
Some people on islands like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands know that they’ll have to leave within the next generation or so as the sea takes over. At operationnoah.org search for ‘Salote’ for a film to help us recognise the human cost of climate change, and its impact on women and children. We must now listen to the voices of these communities, who have intimate and longstanding knowledge of the land they have lived in for generations. Nushrat Chowdury, Christian Aid climate justice policy advisor says: ‘Being from Bangladesh I’ve seen how loss and damage is already affecting my people. Houses, lands, schools, hospitals, roads are being lost and damaged by floods and cyclones. People are losing everything. Sea levels are rising.’
Communities living with the impacts of climate breakdown are calling for an international fund for when extreme weather is expected and to deal with long-term impacts. 22nd September marks ‘Loss and Damage Day’. By paying into an international loss and damage fund, countries and polluters who have done the most to cause the crisis could help people recover and rebuild when disasters strike, and compensate them for what is permanently lost. Small island nations have called for this since 1991 and many more people and countries are raising their voices.
This is a fundamental part of climate justice, a crucial issue in the lead up to COP27 and beyond. Go to makecopcount.org for information from UK faith groups, including that this burden should not fall on the many in the UK who are struggling. Sources for a loss and damage fund could include fossil fuel companies’ profits (2021 profits of 25 of the biggest oil and gas companies were $205 billion) and scrapping fossil fuel subsidies. Cancelling countries’ debts, as in the Jubilee year in Leviticus 25 has also been suggested. It’s not charity, it’s justice and the right thing to do.
Listen to Creation
Creation never ceases to proclaim, but do we listen? ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world’. (Psalm 19: 1-4 NIV)
During the Season of Creation, by listening to the voice of all creation, people from all cultures and sectors of life can be joined in our vocation to care for God’s created Earth, our common home. It is a time for celebration and thanksgiving for God’s bountiful gifts in Creation. It is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through repenting, repairing, and rejoicing together. Our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. We use all the senses we have to be fully aware of the impact we are having as individuals and communities on God’s earth. In prayer we lament the people, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. In prayer we centre the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.
The burning bush is the symbol for the Season of Creation 2022 (seasonofcreation.org). Today, wildfires are a sign of devastating effects that climate change has on the most vulnerable. Creation cries out as forests crackle, animals flee, and people are forced to migrate due to the fires of injustice that we have caused. This year, we saw these fires for ourselves during the most severe heatwave we’ve ever experienced in our country. This brought home to us as never before the reality of the climate emergency and extreme weather due to greenhouse gases produced by industrialised countries such as our own.
But the fire that called to Moses as he tended the flock on Mt. Horeb did not consume or destroy the bush. This flame of the Spirit revealed God’s presence. Moses saw the flames, he felt the heat, and heard the fire crackle. This holy fire affirmed that God heard the cries of all who suffered, and promised to be with us as we followed in faith to our deliverance from injustice. As Lights for Christ and disciples of Jesus, the bringer of a gospel for all people, this symbol of God’s Spirit calls us to listen and faithfully respond through worship and repentance. We need to act now and beyond the Season of Creation. From small changes in our lives and every day choices, in supporting our church communities to pray, work towards net zero carbon and become Eco Churches ecochurch.arocha.org.uk, to lobbying those in power and calling for change. For more ideas search for ‘Lights for Christ Environment Pledges’ or go to the link here.
We pray to our Creator God: ‘May this symbol of the burning bush remind us to take off our sandals, contemplate our connection to holy ground, listen for the voice of creation, and be filled with hope to quench the fires of injustice with the light of your healing love that sustains our common home’.
Contact: Sally Hunter, Environment Project Support at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgements: Resources from seasonofcreation.org and makecopcount.org